Boomtown Fair was in its ninth chapter this year.
Every year organisers create an immersive dystopian world with its own storyline with an attention to detail unlike any other festival. This year’s story was called “Behind the Mask” and focused on discovering the identity of the masked man who took down Mayor Comrade Jose’s tyrannical regime last year and the role of Bang Hai Industries.
Boomtown is made up of 12 districts, 25 main stages and over 80 street venues which all are unique and have their own quirky style. One of these districts is Trenchtown, which hosts the Lion’s Den, which is home to headliners, The Specials, Cypress Hill and MIA as well as reggae and ska artists throughout the day. There’s also Chinatown, home to the iconic stage Bang Hai Towers (where Bang Hai Palace once stood) where world leaders in bass, garage and drum & bass perform across the weekend.
Aside from the main stages, where ever you go in Boomtown you will come across smaller street venues that are disguised as shops or other facilities. This is where you will have the most random and hilarious encounters of the weekend.
If you go to Boomtown you need to go and spend time at these smaller stages. The best ones I found were the Post Office and Little Pharma with DJs playing until the early hours. The bassline remix of YMCA was a definite highlight.
As well as all this madness, there are forest parties dotted around the festival which keep the party going until 4am.
If you want to get fully involved, go to the Job Centre and have a word with the unhappy to help careers advisors, that’s if you don’t get kicked out by security first. Or visit the inconvenience store where you will find everything you knew you never needed and be ripped into by the staff and owner. The experience is so unlike any other festival and that’s what sets Boomtown miles ahead of any other UK festival.
It’s not just the street venues you’ll encounter the actors of Boomtown. There are pirates lurking in Old Town who give you dares to do for rewards, fat cat businessmen in the wealthy district of Mayfair throwing money to you from balconies, and scientists who conduct experiments on you in nuclear irradiated Sector 6.
Something special about Boomtown are the secret missions, yes you read that correctly. If you approach actors you may be lucky enough to be given a task to do which ties into the story of Boomtown. They’re not easy to crack though and can take up a lot of time but they are incredibly fun and you really feel like you’re part of the story.
On a serious note, this year Boomtown introduced a drugs testing tent, a harm reduction service from charity The Loop. The service offers a non-judgemental testing and advice service where you can drop of a sample and later find out what your drug contains and how much is safe to take. This progressive addition to the festival has been celebrated by folk singer and Boomtown Veteran Beans on Toast.
There really is something for everyone at Boomtown. From chilled out ska and reggae to heavy bassline to serious talks about world issues at Whistlers Green, there’s so much more than just the music here it would be impossible not to enjoy this festival.
You must thank the organisers so much for all the hard work they put in every year for creating a place where for a weekend we can forget about whatever is going on in the outside world and come together to celebrate freedom and unity.